Catholic World News

Obamacare mandate: opinion roundup

February 14, 2012

In the latest developments in the debate over the Obama administration’s “compromise” on mandatory coverage for contraception in health-care plans:

  • More than 200 religious and academic leaders have signed a statement, titled simply “Unacceptable,” noting that the revised plan “still coerces religious institutions and individuals” to subsidize what they find morally repugnant.
  • Elizabeth Scalia writes for First Things that the Obama administration’s plan has failed to garner support even among some of the Catholics who have previously been reliable allies of the White House.
  • In a very provocative essay, Paul Rahe argues that Catholic leaders have brought the current political crisis upon themselves, by consistently supporting expansion of the federal government’s social programs for more than 70 years. Noting that Catholic bishops began backing Roosevelt’s “New Deal” policies in the 1930s, Rahe writes:
    At every turn in American politics since that time, you will find the hierarchy assisting the Democratic Party and promoting the growth of the administrative entitlements state. At no point have its members evidenced any concern for sustaining limited government and protecting the rights of individuals.
    Rahe wonders whether the Obama plan has finally “shaken some members of the hierarchy from their dogmatic slumber.”
  • Michael Cook of MercatorNet takes a closer look at the oft-cited statistic that 98% of all Catholic women use artificial contraception, and finds that it is a gross exaggeration. The 98% figure extends to all women who have ever used a contraceptive, and includes only those who are sexually active but seeking to avoid pregnancy. But even at that, he observes, the figures clearly show that 11% of Catholic women “are using no method of contraception at all.”
  • The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has joined other liberal Catholic groups in supporting the Obama “compromise” plan, finding it “a fair and helpful way for us to move forward.” The LCWR statement called for the “full implementation” of the Obama administration’s health-care plans.
  • Ross Douthat of the New York Times observed that the Obama administration has met with some initial success in its plan to gain support from liberal Catholic institutions. The White House strategy is obviously designed to split the Catholic vote, he said:
    So the president has probably won today’s political battle. The question now is whether the Catholic bishops in particular, and religious conservatives in general, have a strategy for the longer war.
  • Hadley Arkes offers one suggestion for such a winning political strategy, saying that it is not enough to ask that Catholic institutions be exempt from the HHS mandate. “To seek an ‘exemption’ is to concede the binding quality of the law for everyone not subject to the exemption,” Arkes reminds us. But a law requiring support for contraception, sterilization, and abortion should not be binding on anyone. Arkes concludes:
    We delude ourselves then if we think that the current crisis can be resolved with anything but the thorough repeal of Obamacare.

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  • Posted by: p.hession20095038 - Feb. 16, 2012 5:02 PM ET USA

    If you insist on dancing with the devil, don't be surprised if he steps all over your toes. IN other words, if Catholic organizations continue to receive government funds, they shouldn't be surprised when the government determines when, where, and how they are to be spent.